Speak for the Trees

District 34 is home to numerous ash trees (examples above), which are now threatened due to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive beetle species. This insect will have a devastating effect on our community’s tree canopy, with almost all untreated ash trees expected to die by 2026. It is estimated that up to 10% of Nashville’s tree canopy is ash trees, and in many District 34 neighborhoods, the percentage of the canopy is much higher. Ash trees can be found throughout the district in parks, neighborhoods, school campuses, cultural sites, along city streets and in private yards. There are 241 ash trees on the 55 acres at Cheekwood, for example, and my own street adjacent to Cheekwood is a veritable grove of beautiful, tall ash trees. Sadly, the loss of ash trees will be both visible and palpable for many District 34 neighborhoods.

In partnership with the Metro Tree Advisory Committee, Metro Public Works and Cheekwood, I am hosting a District 34 Community Meeting about the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic on Wednesday, July 10th, 7:00 – 8:00 PM at Cheekwood in the Potter Room in Botanic Hall. This will be a concise informational meeting to make sure you know exactly what an ash tree looks like and all the options you have to address their impending demise in your neighborhood and/or at your home. If you have a big, healthy ash tree, you may still be able to save it through trunk treatments. Other ash trees, which become brittle and hazardous as they die, will need to be removed, or if they are in a wooded area and not a hazard, they can be left to die in place.

The loss of ash trees will have a significant impact on private and public property in the coming years, however this past year, I found that many Nashvillians had not yet heard of this looming epidemic. This spring, I filed a resolution to help raise awareness in our community and within Metro Government. The death of so many large canopy trees will have an impact on both the Public Works and Parks Department budgets and the impact to stormwater runoff will also be challenging for Metro’s Stormwater Division. Click here to read the resolution.

Additional Resources & Information: https://www.nashville.gov/Public-Works/Community-Beautification/Tree-Information.aspx

During my first term in office, it has been my privilege to work with the Metro Tree Advisory Committee, Nashville Tree Foundation, Nashville Tree Task Force, and numerous advocates for trees on community tree plantings–most recently along Page Road in District 34, where the “kissing canopy” has been compromised by two major straight-line wind events and along which there are numerous ash trees. Trees can serve as traffic calming–when planted close to the street, they narrow a drivers cone of vision and reduce speeding. Along Page Road, Metro’s horticulturist worked with neighbors to strategically place the new trees in areas of impending ash loss.

Root Nashville, a public/private campaign, is led by Metro Nashville Government and the Cumberland River Compact. Root Nashville’s goal is to plant 500,000 trees across Davidson County by 2050. All the trees from community plantings are recorded on the Root Nashville website, and if you plant a tree(s) at your own home, please make sure you record it on the website also to help the city reach its goal. Stay tuned for the Metro Public Works tree sale in the fall, for great deals on trees and assistance in the planting and watering them.

In the last two years of this term, I’m also proud to have been the lead sponsor on Nashville’s first tree-related legislation in 10 years. BL2018-1416 was highly technical and complicated and took many months working with Metro Planning staff and stakeholders to reach consensus. The bill as substituted and amended had a positive public hearing on July 2 and is now on track to pass third and final reading on July 16th. “The tree bill” will better incentivize mature tree retention and street trees and require more tree density in commercial and multi-family development. This is just the first in a series of bills that will work in concert with each other to deliver a more consistent, comprehensive and effective approach to urban forestry in Nashville.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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2019 Budget Breakdown

Why I didn’t vote for a property tax increase.

It was a challenging week on Metro Council, with mixed opinions on the various proposed budgets (the most substitute budgets filed by the Council in Metro’s history) and a wide variety of needs and wants to balance and consider. Several of my constituents are disappointed because I did not vote for what they believed was a much-needed, 15.8% property tax increase. While it saddens me to disappoint any constituent, and I understand their concerns, I also know that the majority of my constituents agree with my decision to vote no.

There are more people over age 70 living in District 34 than anywhere else in Nashville, and I heard from a lot of them last week. A senior residing in a modest ranch home on our district’s typically large lots is paying around $4,000 in property taxes at the current rate. The Vercher substitute budget would have increased their annual taxes $630. Some will say, that’s a small price to pay for all the benefits within the budget, but I have to think closely about the impact on the people I represent and be mindful that in other areas of Nashville with exponentially appreciating home values, a sharply rising and regressive property tax is an even greater burden, contributing to the gentrification of core neighborhoods and pushing more people to reside on the periphery of Davidson County and beyond.

I also heard from several constituents asking me to raise their taxes. I appreciate these constituents’ willingness to increase their personal tax burden for the collective good of our schools. While this was a clear vote for my head, this was a difficult vote for my heart because I know that our Metro teachers and employees feel under valued and under appreciated with just a 3% cost of living adjustment (COLA) in the mayor’s budget, when they were already due 3% last year. Chair Vercher’s budget delivered a 4% COLA and one pay “step” increase for MNPS employees, but just a 3% COLA for general Metro employees. The Council eagerly awaits the MNPS pay study and the School Board’s work in this area, as it is clear that teachers have long been dissatisfied with the current pay structure.

Numerous departments and constituencies had items in the Vercher substitute budget that they wanted, that were good things, but those goods have to be balanced against the larger budgetary and economic impacts. For example, the Vercher budget added 20 new positions to the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD), which sounds beneficial, until you realize that there are currently over 80 MNPD positions un-filled. Personally, I wanted another urban forestry position in the Codes Department. I know from my work on tree-related policy that we are far behind peer cities and this position is much needed. This was a budget request that I personally coordinated. Chair Vercher kindly added it to her substitute budget, but as passionate as I am about tree-policy work, that still did not convince me to vote for this budget.

There’s no one solution to Metro’s budget woes. I agree that we will likely need a slight tax rate adjustment to get back on track after the last three mayors abdicated their responsibility to adjust the rate to keep revenue, spending and debt obligations in balance. That said, I disagree that a rate adjustment of the magnitude proposed, a $0.498 cent increase per $100 of assessed value, a 15.8% rate increase, is appropriate at this time. A rate adjustment should not be so significant that Metro Government is disincentivized from addressing systemic/structural problems and making the heavier, more complicated policy lifts. Before we consider raising property taxes, which have the greatest impact on lower-income individuals, we must:

  1. address the revenue capture in the “downtown” tourism zone (TDZ).
  2. advance a referendum within the next two years for a fundamentals-first transportation plan with dedicated funding for sidewalks, greenways, bikeways, & a truly excellent bus system.
  3. be pro-active and intentional about implementing business improvement districts (BID) in our suburban centers to supplement funding for the specific operational and capital needs of those areas.
  4. elevate ethics in procurement.
  5. reform tax increment financing (TIF).
  6. better address the impact and lessen the use of incentives and abatements for preferred real estate developers and corporations.

These are just some of the structural, policy changes we need to make, and I do not believe we should raise the property taxes of individual citizens so significantly until Metro Government gets our proverbial house in order. (For more details on the list above, please see the “Getting Our House in Order” blog post). There are so many awesome folks in Metro Government doing solid work for our citizens. I am grateful to them, and saddened that the rocky leadership in the Mayor’s Office, and the doubts and concerns that creates, continues to influence the willingness of taxpayers to invest more money in the Bank of Metro.

However they feel about mayoral leadership over this term, the majority of the Council agrees that Metro Government’s budgeting process is broken. Despite our thick budget books and 55 departmental budget hearings, much of our large departments’ budgets remain opaque. It is only through years of intentional engagement that council members begin to notice patterns in legislative and budget related discussions and start making specific requests for organizational charts and financial reports. In so doing, members of our various committee’s come to better understand the inner workings and budgetary needs of the departments to better deliver the services that citizens need and want. This requires an inordinate amount of time and effort, and questions of the council members are often met with skepticism and concerns of micro-management.

Given the constraints the Council has, I am grateful to Councilman Mendes for his budget work, to Councilman Glover for trying to provide a budget with a lower tax increase to honor the COLA, and to Budget & Finance Committee Chair Vercher for all her hard work. For one person to have to revise and compile a massive budget in virtual isolation with small inputs for changes and additions from other council members via staff, when the mayor has a massive finance department and months and months at his disposal to prepare his budget, is ridiculous. Our mayor-dominant system does not serve our citizens well. The Council does not, but can and should, make better use of its committee system to divide the work needed for comprehensive departmental oversight, meeting policy goals, and delivering a budget that reflects the collective will of our body and the citizens we represent.

When a budget fails by one vote, it’s very easy for those who are disappointed to direct their ire at any one particular Council member. Nashvillians who are mad at the Council for not passing the substitute budget with the tax increase, should remember also that the mayor lobbied against it and likely would have vetoed it. If you want better budgeting and fiscal stewardship, elect a better mayor and elect council members with the independence to vote against unsound deals. For good or bad, with our “strong-mayor” form of government, Nashville is where it is at any particular time largely due to the deals and choices made inside the Mayor’s Office.

In service to you, I research, read, and listen to a variety of opinions and sources before all votes, especially one of this magnitude. I stand by my budget vote and am accountable for it and every vote that I have made in my service on the Council. I welcome you to contact me with your questions and concerns at angie.henderson@nashville.gov or call me at 615-260-5530. I am always happy to discuss your Metro government with you.

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Getting Our House in Order

I’ve been mixing my metaphors lately: houses, gambling, cleaning, stores, trains. “We’re off track.” “We need to clean house.” One day last week, I was thinking perhaps I should make an effort to dial down the use of metaphors in my remarks about Metro when a constituent said to me that it appeared to him that Metro had misplaced priorities and was putting a lot of energy into branding and marketing and less into fundamentals of governance.

“Indeed,” I said. “Recent mayors have put a lot of energy into highlighting programs & proclamations, but it would behoove the city if they would spend less time touting the admirable variety of merchandise in the display windows and more time paying attention to all the essential products being stolen out of the back of the store!” (A store metaphor, right off the top of my head–apparently, I’m a metaphor addict.)

My blog post about my budget vote was too loooong. I could already feel people falling asleep as I was typing it. One of the central points I was trying to make was that Metro needs to address several key, structural and policy issues before asking individual taxpayers to contribute more in property tax. I briefly listed several areas that need attention, and lest you think I did not expound upon them sufficiently in my other post, I decided to flesh them out a bit more here.

  1. Address the revenue capture in the tourism development zone (TDZ). Structured to provide dedicated tax revenue for operations and debt service on the new convention center, this zone is too large, extending well past downtown. It’s so large that the Convention Center Authority (CCA) is running a $100 million revenue surplus and using that surplus to fund parking garages in private development, like the recent $38 million contributed to the 5th & Broadway project. As negotiated by Metro, the CCA directed $10 million to the general fund this year. They may be able to provide more, but we also need to consider whether the boundaries of the TDZ need to be redrawn via legislation at the State. Learn more about the TDZ here: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/07/01/nashville-music-city-center-tennessee-tourism-lower-broadway-tax-revenue/737803002/
  2. Advance a referendum ASAP within the next two years for a fundamentals-first transportation plan with dedicated funding for sidewalks, greenways, bikeways & a truly excellent bus system. This will open up at least $48 million in the annual operational budget. Mayor Barry’s gamble in 2017, when she didn’t adjust the tax rate (historically always a mayor-lead effort) so she could tout the “lowest tax rate ever” for the benefit of marketing her high-cost, low-return, debt-laden transit plan (which failed via referendum 2 to 1) is coming due. We cannot wait five years to advance a better more modest plan that will make a positive difference for more people.
  3. Be pro-active and intentional about implementing business improvement districts (BID) in our suburban centers to supplement funding for the specific operational and capital needs of those areas. In a sprawled city/county consolidated government like Nashville, BIDs allow these established business hubs, many with legacy chambers of commerce, to enhance infrastructure and services on their own, tailored terms. This is an important financial and community building tool that Nashville is so far only using in three areas. Learn more about BIDs here: https://www.pps.org/article/bid-2
  4. Elevate ethics in procurement. Nashville has had several messy, major procurements this term first for the potential redevelopment of the park land that was home to the former Greer Stadium and most recently for the purchase and management of our on-street parking system, a plan most on Council oppose. In response to the Collier Engineering scandal, Mayor Briley hired a 100K position in the Mayor’s Office to address ethics in procurement. Fine, but at the same time, we should probably stop doing business with the corrupt contractors that sparked this work, no? Why is our city still doing business with a firm that we have verifiable proof stole money from taxpayers? Tolerance of grifters only begets more grifters.
  5. Reform tax increment financing (TIF). TIF can be an important tool when used as intended to catalyze development in depressed and blighted areas, but TIF was still being doled out for prime downtown real estate projects in 2017. Nashville’s real estate market is burning hot, and fires don’t need gasoline poured on them. (Metaphor alert) This needs to stop, and I appreciate Councilman Cooper and Councilman Mendes’ work to address this. Learn more about TIF in Nashville here: https://www.nashville.gov/document/ID/2ee32fe9-1022-4eff-8462-1ae457b923fc/Final-Report-May-7-2019
  6. Address incentives and abatements for preferred developers and corporations. For per-job type incentives, we’re still paying half a million to Dell every year in our budget, apparently because no one in the Mayor’s Office or on the Council thought to put a reasonable time limit on that incentive when it passed in 1999. This year, I amended the Amazon per-job incentive bill, which I didn’t vote for, to cap them after 7 years. I opposed $15 million in infrastructure incentives for the Nashville Yards development, the $20 million un-itemized bucket in our capital spending plan for the River North development, and the 10-acre give away for a private, mixed-use development that was part of the soccer deal. Private development should pay for itself, full stop. Hopefully abatements are an incentive of the past, but the Omni Hotel is still abated to the tune of around $2 million per year, and the Bridgestone Americas downtown tower is receiving a 100 percent property tax abatement for 20 years, just to name a few. These decisions have accrued to the detriment of our general fund, basic services, and schools.

Metro Government needs to get our house in order, and I’m determined to help clean things up. If we address the issues listed above, we’ll be back on the right track. (I know, I know, cleaning house AND train tracks, but I told you at the start I was having a metaphor problem, so it was bound to show up in the conclusion.)

P.S. Please note that these blogs are far from research papers. Is there more to be said, more facts to be shared? Sure. But there’s only so much time in the day to serve my constituents, complete two major policy efforts (trees! sidewalks!), and campaign to continue to representing District 34. If you like what you read here, there’s also a contribution page on this website, and I’d be grateful for your support to continue serving on the city council. Next financial deadline is June 30th. Thanks very much!

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Angie in the News as a Policymaker

The Metro Council is your city’s legislative and oversight body. In my first term on Nashville’s Metro Council, I have served as chair of the Parks, Libraries & Arts Committee, vice chair of the Public Works Committee, and served on the Budget & Finance Committee. As a policymaker, my work has received local and national attention. To learn more about my service on the Council and my policy interests, please click the links below.

Angie calls out corruption:

Tennessean: Nashville Payments to Collier Engineering Firm for Two Liaisons Draws Scrutiny

Angie, a long-time transit advocate, breaks down her opposition to the 2018 transit plan:

Tennessean: Put the Real Cost of the Nashville Transit Plan on the Ballot

Angie sponsors and passes landmark sidewalk legislation:

Tennessean: Nashville to Require More Developers Provide Sidewalks

Angie speaks about the NFL Draft/Cherry Tree debacle, the tree bill, and the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic:

Newsmaker: Angie Henderson, Metro Council Dist.34, on Nashville Trees

Angie works with local Girl Scouts on a resolution honoring Josephine Holloway

Nashville Public Radio: How Nashville Girl Scouts Honored the Founder of a Pioneering Black Troop

Angie co-sponsors bill preventing Metro from selling land to plug holes in the operational budget:

Tennessean: Nashville Council Votes to Prohibit Selling Metro Land for Budget Fixes

Angie speaks to new harassment training requirements bill that she helped pass:

Nashville Public Radio: Metro To Require Contract Companies To Go Through Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

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Walkable Neighborhoods

Almost all neighborhoods are “walkable” to a certain degree, but in Nashville most are NOT safely or enjoyably walkable. If you live in District 34, can you safely walk to Radnor Lake or the Warner Parks? Probably not. Can you safely walk to the major artery where a transit line runs? Probably not. And if you can make it there, are you “rewarded” for your effort by standing in a ditch to wait for the bus? Probably.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3EO9f-QHqE

Nashville has an inappropriately low level of infrastructure investment in neighborhoods. We already have many neighborhoods that are sufficiently dense, that have been pleading (for many years) for sidewalks on their walk green hills“collector” streets to safely connect them to adjacent commercial areas, parks, schools, and transit. Those neighborhoods should be served whether or not they choose to become more dense. In District 34, neighbors with .45 acres or less are our “denser neighborhoods.” My neighborhood has 300+ households within a half mile of restaurants, shops, a major park, a major community/tourist destination, and a transit line, but ZERO walkable infrastructure except around one townhouse infill project built 8+ years ago. It is completely illogical. Saying that more density will bring more walkability is a backwards conversation. Let’s improve the Sidewalk Priority Index and direct more funding to sidewalks. Let’s make smart, targeted sidewalk investments improving what we already have, and filling in gaps, both large and small, in the sidewalk network. We can and should build mixed-use walkable areas and transit-oriented development in strategic locations all over Nashville. There are opportunities for strategic infill, where neighbors support it, closer to major arteries and commercial areas, but “Density” should look different for every neighborhood.

To view my comprehensive answers from the Walk/Bike Nashville candidate survey, click here.

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Nashville Needs a Comprehensive & Actionable Transportation Plan (Yesterday).

In every other major city in which I have lived, I have been a daily transit rider. In San Francisco, I rode the bus (or the cable car!) to and from work 5 days a week. In New York, I rode the subway everywhere. In Philadelphia, I rode the train from the suburbs to downtown. When I was a child and lived on West End for a few years, I rode the bus with my mom and dad to 1975 Bus stopthe downtown library on Saturdays to attend the Tom Tichenor puppet shows and check out our weekly books. I remember those outings so fondly and vividly, and not just the library part, but also the awesome taking-the-bus part. I wish I could ride the bus more often in Nashville, but with infrequent service, too few crosstown routes, and no sidewalk to get me safely to the closest bus line (at the intersection of Highways 100 and 70), it doesn’t make sense for me. I drive my mini-van almost everywhere I go, and as the infamous bumper sticker reminds us: you’re not in traffic, you are traffic. The best solution to Nashville’s traffic problem is a truly multi-modal transit system.

Here is where I stand on transit:

Without a comprehensive, actionable, multi-modal transportation plan, including sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and greenways, Nashville’s economy and quality of life will be significantly diminished by our growing traffic problem. Addressing this issue will have to be done both locally and regionally. Building more highway lanes and widening major streets doesn’t solve the problem, rather it induces demand and makes the problem worse. It is encouraging to see that TDOT and Metro Public Works are increasingly focused on the multi-modal picture of transportation rather than exclusively on road building.

The Regional Transit Authority in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Organization provides the frame work for regional transportation planning and funding. 54% of the people in the Nashville/Clarksville MSA are working in a county different than the one in which they live, so we must address regional transit by expanding coach-style buses and rail services. Partnering with surrounding counties to encourage mixed-use, transit-oriented development (to include housing) along the Music City Star rail line, for example, and doing the same in certain corridors in Nashville will keep communities connected and more cars off the road.

A strategic plan for MTA is long overdue, but I am optimistic about the new leadership of Stephen Bland and the nMotion planning process that is finally underway, which will build on the land-use planning work of NashvilleNEXT, as land-use planning and transit success are inextricably linked. I hope that all riders as well as non-riders (or would-be riders) and local employers and property owners will be actively engaged in the nMotion process. Take the next nMotion “trade offs” survey here.

MTA ridership is climbing consistently with 24% of current riders having started using the system in the last year. That’s good news, and we need to support and enhance that trend with the real-time transit app, better marketing and improved access and connectivity. Currently, MTA ridership is made up of 68% dependent riders and 32% choice riders. To address traffic issues, we must focus on increasing the choice rider percentage.

Transit is an important service for seniors and young people, but only 3% of MTA riders are over 65 and only 6% are under age 18. In a city of our size with our demographics, those percentages should be much higher, and this speaks to the fact that seniors and young people cannot not safely reach transit stops because of lacking sidewalk and crosswalk infrastructure.

With the current bus system still operating far below capacity, we must make more sidewalk connections to transit, and we must dignify the transit rider with clean shelters and safe crossings—people should not have to stand and wait in ditches inches from speeding cars and dash across 5 lanes of traffic to be able to ride the bus.

Near term initiatives/partnerships could include:

1) increasing and marketing transit service for special events (Predators games, 4th of July Fireworks, etc);

2) increasing park-and-ride options within suburban areas by partnering with local churches and shopping areas for parking; and

3) expanding the MNPS/MTA partnership to include free rides for middle schoolers in addition to high schoolers.

 

These are just a few of the small gains/improvements that should be considered as part of the larger county-wide and regional puzzle. In the end, the funding is the biggest piece and will be the most difficult part of the conversation, but I think Council can look to the successes of peer cities like Salt Lake City to see how they have communicated that increasing transit funding is crucial to maintaining and enhancing a city’s economy, health, affordability, and quality of life.

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Angie in the Green Hills News

Angie

Neighborhood Leader Angie Henderson Running for Metro Council District 34

Angie Emery Henderson has formalized her campaign for Nashville Metro Council’s District 34.  A leader in neighborhood, non-profit, and civic organizations throughout the city, Henderson currently serves as the president of the Belle Meade Highlands Neighborhood Association. A native Nashvillian and former resident of Forest Hills, Henderson has lived in a variety of District 34 neighborhoods.

“I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to apply my neighborhood leadership experience and skills to work on the Metro Council,” said Henderson at her campaign kick-off event. “Strong neighborhoods are the foundation of a great city, and I will work diligently to preserve the residential character and natural beauty that make District 34 so special. I will be a clear and consistent voice for the people of District 34 and help to thoughtfully and intelligently guide decisions that affect Nashville’s future.”

Henderson is a respected civic volunteer and long-time advocate for more safely walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. She was the founder and organizer of the annual “Walk! Green Hills” awareness event (formerly The Green Hills Walk at Lunch) that was a part of Walk Nashville Week (now Month) for twelve years, and chaired the inaugural Green Hills Historic Homecoming festival in partnership with Metro Archives, Hillsboro High School, and the Green Hills Library. Over the years, she has served as a chair and vice-chair of The Green Hills Action Partners (TGHAP), which was founded in 1999 by members of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for the Green Hills Urban Village Plan, as well as chair for the group’s Transportation & Sidewalks Committee. Most recently, Henderson served on the Resource Team for the Green Hills Area Transportation Plan and on the planning committee for Walk/Bike Nashville’s Mayoral Candidates Forum on Walkability. She continues to serve on the Community Engagement Committee for the NashvilleNEXT 2040 planning process.

Henderson attended the Harpeth Hall School and was graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1995 with a degree in Growth & Structure of Cities, having defended her thesis on the architecture of public schools with Nashville as a case study.  Henderson is an active volunteer for her college, where she currently serves on the President’s Advisory Council and the Alumnae Regional Scholars Selection Committee. After college, Henderson worked in marketing for the architecture, engineering and planning firm Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill LLC and in fundraising for Dartmouth College where she was a Stewardship Writer and at Belmont University where she was Director of Foundation Relations.

Under Henderson’s leadership, membership in the Belle Meade Highlands Neighborhood Association (BMHNA) has increased over 40%. Henderson says, “prompt, helpful communication and thorough research are crucial when serving my neighbors, addressing their concerns, and advocating around matters of crime & safety, traffic, speeding, zoning, and needed infrastructure. And I intend to bring that same skill set to service on the Council”  Fellow neighbors are very complimentary of Henderson’s dedication and attention to detail. Former BMHNA Board Member and current Beautification Committee Chair Rob Harrington says, “Angie’s management style, leadership skills, and work ethic are exemplary. I’ve seen firsthand how she solicits input from all viewpoints, thoroughly considers all options, and makes thoughtful decisions that balance the interests of all constituents. I can’t imagine anyone more qualified than Angie to serve as a Metro Council member.”

In the first campaign finance report of January 15, Henderson’s treasurer Richard Dickerson reported that Friends for Angie Henderson had reported over $17,000 total raised, with just over $11,000 cash on hand. The next fundraiser for the campaign is coming up on March 3.

http://www.gcanews.com/angie-henderson-running-for-metro-council-district-34/

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Why I’m Running

Over the last few months and weeks, when I tell people that I am running to serve the 34th District on Metro Council, I’ve received very positive reactions—and after the initial “That’s great!” I usually get two types of questions:

First : “Where is District 34?” or “Am I in District 34?” If you are still wondering the same, we have maps of 34 here tonight. If you don’t live in 34, you can’t vote for me, but you can ADVOCATE for me. If elected, I will serve residents of 34 and all of Nashville. Please also find friends and family on the District 34 map, and be in touch with them, forward them my newsletter, and share my Facebook page. Your support in that way is invaluable.

Now the second type question I sometimes receive after telling people I’m running is: “Are you sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?”

The answer to that is, yes, I absolutely know what I am getting into, and I am approaching this job with much optimism and enthusiasm. This job requires the ability to happily address the little things like a missed trash pick-up, a leaning stop sign, or a needed pot hole repair and the ability to tackle larger, and seemingly intractable, countywide issues. This job requires patience and a proactive and intentional attitude, and I have that in abundance.

I am well-suited to the job of a Metro Councilperson because I am a friendly, collaborative, consensus builder, and I’m also a tenacious problem solver. I don’t mind putting in long hours to get things done right. I have been an active civic volunteer in Nashville for 15 years, and I have learned volumes in my interaction with Metro Government. and its dauntingly numerous Departments and Boards—Public Works, Planning Department, the Water Department, the Parks Department, Metro Public Schools, the BZA, the MTA—you name it, I have met with them, emailed with them, and worked with them along with area non-profits, businesses, property owners and fellow neighborhood leaders. I want to bring that significant volunteer experience—those successes, frustrations, and challenges, and those hard-earned skills, to the service of our city.

This is an exciting and vibrant time to live in Nashville as more and more people are witnessing and testifying to our City’s many strengths. We are growing rapidly, and growth is good, but it comes with sizable challenges. We need smart growth. Growth that respects neighborhoods. We need legislators that can keep their eye on the ball and be proactive, rather than reactive, to be intentional rather than scattershot. It’s time for Metro Council to get serious.

In August, Nashville will be electing a new mayor, and over 60% percent of the Metro Council will be first time representatives. Every citizen in every district needs to pay close attention during this campaign season, ask the tough questions, and tell those running for office your concerns and your ideas. The work your elected city representatives do, or don’t do, affects you daily and deeply.

My opponent does not have the civic, non-profit, and neighborhood experience that I do, and EXPERIENCE MATTERS. I have the experience and the education to read, listen, question, analyze and address the complex issues our City faces related to population growth and zoning, education and workforce development, traffic and transit, budget and infrastructure—from Google Fiber to sewer pipes to sidewalks.

Nashville is doing a lot of things right. For example, if you call them, Metro Public Works will very promptly fill your pot hole or fix a leaning stop sign—but that’s the easy stuff. What Public Works does NOT do well is sidewalk infrastructure and bicycle infrastructure, because those are harder, and fraAEH_081nkly, when things get complex in this city, or involve multiple departments coordinating, too often they just don’t get done.

If your child cannot safely bike to their friend’s house without you worrying that they will be struck by a car, our city is not on the right track. If our seniors cannot safely cross the street when they are walking to the YMCA or the grocery store, our city is not on the right track. You need to elect someone who will not accept these failures and who is committed to making our city a safer and more enjoyable place for all children and families to live, learn, walk, bike, work and play.

Our City has kicked the can down the road on infrastructure, transit, and capital improvements to our schools for far too long, but the future has arrived, and by 2040 there will likely be a million more people living in our region. That’s just 25 years from now. Looking 25 years in reverse, 1990 doesn’t seem like very long ago. The time is now to prepare for that growth, and the person you need representing you in Council should not be someone who just got interested in these issues a few years ago. I’ve been tirelessly devoting the majority of my “free” time to reading and meeting, and understanding Nashville’s challenges and working to solve problems and create opportunities for 15 years.

I am asking for your support and your vote so that I can bring my experience and my skills inside the process of Metro Government and start getting things done. No one will work harder for you and your family than I will. No one will work harder for your neighborhood and your Nashville than I will.

With your help as a donor, a volunteer, an advocate or a voter, we’ll all be back together again on August 6th celebrating our VICTORY!

I hope you will make sure to chat with me before you leave. I am happy to answer any and all questions about where I stand on particular issues. I value being accessible, so you are welcome to email or call me anytime.

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  • Written by angie henderson

Planting for the Future

Happy spring! During my childhood, I lived for many years on five wonderful acres on Granny White Pike. There were lots of trees to climb in, a workshop, a potting shed, a green house, lots of gardens, a fish pond, and a root cellar! Pretty much paradise for a young person. Each year in late winter and early spring, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of daffodils that had been planted by our home’s previous owners way back in the 1940s. Now this was no ordinary cluster of daffodils–this was an immense cutting garden with thousands of bulbs and blooms in multiple rows–a beautiful sight to see and smell and experience. I wonder if the owners knew that the bulbs they planted would be delighting a new family over 40 years in the future?

Planting thousands of daffodils is a gift to the future, not just for one spring but for several generations. Daffodil bulbs and their potential remind me of the green investments that our city can “plant” today–like greenways, protected bike lanes, sidewalks with green buffers, street trees, water gardens, bioswales, pervious pavement, canopy trees, native flowers, and pocket parks. If these infrastructure “bulbs” are planned thoughtfully and planted well, Nashville and Nashvillians will be enjoying the beauty and utility of those investments (and daffodils) for generations to come.

One place that comes to mind when I think about daffodils and the importance of enhancing and maintaining green space is the “traffic island” at the intersection of Abbott Martin & Cleghorn. In the early 2000s, as a volunteer for The Green Hills Action Partners (TGHAP), I applied for a small grant from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods for a brick and limestone welcome sign to provide a sense of arrival in the business district.  TGHAP partnered with surrounding property owners and businesses to plant bushes and seasonal flowers, but my favorite part of the process was planting daffodil bulbs with fellow volunteers.

We requested those bulbs from Metro Beautification/Public Works, and you too can get daffodil bulbs from Metro, if you focus your efforts at a local school. Start thinking now about partnering with a school to plant daffodils this fall. The deadline is October 31st to request bulbs via this form, and November is the ideal time to plant them. Learn all about daffodils and what they need to thrive here.

This month the Abbott Martin & Cleghorn “traffic island” is again going through a transformation. The tall and stately elm that was for many years the highlight of this space died unexpectedly this summer and a redbud tree that had brought spring color seemed to have given up with old age. The demise of these two trees prompted me to seek out community partners to make this public space beautiful once again. This month in partnership with The Tree Foundation & Metro Public Works, we are planning and planting for the future of this green space in the heart of our business district. More on this project later!

Today, I am looking forward to seeing the 10,000 daffodils planted by Cheekwood on the lawn behind their Pineapple Room restaurant for Cheekwood in Bloom. (Go ASAP, they are in full bloom now!), and in the coming weeks,???????????????????????????????????????????? 100,000 tulips will be blooming too. One of District 34’s many treasures, Cheekwood is beautiful in every season, but spring is a special treat. I encourage you to join me as a member, if you’re not one already, to help support and preserve this unique landscape for generations to come!

As your councilperson, I will be committed to protecting, preserving and enhancing District 34’s natural environment and special places. I will be committed to creating more vibrant, safe and beautiful public spaces and streetscapes throughout Nashville. Through intentional efforts, strategic investments, and community partnerships, we can make our city’s public spaces more beautiful. Let’s plan and plant for Nashville’s future together. Is there a public space in District 34 that could be more safe and/or beautiful? A triangle of concrete that should be a bed of native wildflowers?  A spot that needs some daffodils? Go to my contact page and send me a message. I’d love to hear from you.

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  • Written by angie henderson

Safe Streets for Everyone

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

As I prepare for my Campaign Kick-Off event this week, I am energized and grateful for the opportunity to put the knowledge and experience I’ve gained as an active civic volunteer to work for my District 34 neighbors and my city. In the coming months on this blog, I look forward to sharing reasons why I am running for Metro Council, additional information about my qualifications and background, and my views on issues affecting our district and Nashville at large.

As this is my first step into “blogging,” it seems fitting to share a goal that highlights walking and moving forward on a journey towards achieving a vision or goal. The vision that has motivated me to serve as a walkable neighborhoods advocate for 15 years and continues to motivate me as I begin my journey to serve in Metro Government is: a Nashville in which ALL children can safely and enjoyably walk and bike to their friends’ homes, in which ALL seniors are safe to walk for health and fitness on their neighborhood streets, and where EVERYONE who lives near a store, restaurant, park, school, or house of worship can truly enjoy walking or biking there.

In my own neighborhood, the practical reality of achieving that vision means addressing lacking and decaying infrastructure, chronic speeding, and traffic concerns. It requires the engagement of our councilperson, Public Works, Storm Water, the Planning Department, the Parks Department, non-profit organizations, and Metro Police. Perhaps a daunting and disconcerting web of agencies to most people, I relish the challenge to get everyone on the same page to achieve our neighborhood vision and goals. I have no illusions that this is easily done.

For 15 years, I have been engaged in this kind of work in my neighborhood and in the Green Hills Business District. It can be a long and often frustrating path with two steps forward and three steps back, over and over again. But I am still here, still moving forward, still pushing to enhance our city’s safety and quality of life.

There is much we can and should do to make Metro Government more responsive and efficient in its service to the citizens of Davidson County, so that all neighborhoods can realize their own goals for the public realm. A great city is a diverse community of active and engaged neighborhoods. A great city has streets that are safe for EVERYONE, whether they are walking, biking, or driving.

There is no more beautiful place to walk than in District 34, and I hope to cross paths with you soon! Join me on this journey by signing up for my campaign newsletter, attending a campaign event, and following this blog. Please also share your own vision and goals for your neighborhood with me. I am listening.

-Angie

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  • Written by angie henderson